My name is Hema Gupta and I live in Marlboro, New Jersey. Thanks to Charlie O’Shields for this opportunity to share with you about myself and my art.
I am a software engineer by profession and have been working full time in the telecom industry for several years. I am a self-taught artist, and even though some find it hard to believe, I enjoy my technical job as much as I enjoy my art!
As a child, my favorite pastime was drawing faces. I would copy celebrity photos from magazine covers and was constantly doodling in all my notebooks. For several years, all I did as far as art was concerned was make birthday and New Year’s greeting cards for friends.
I graduated with an engineering degree in electronics, started working, and then got married. When I moved to New Jersey from India, there was no time for my hobby. I would make an occasional painting that caught my fancy or would copy step-by-step painting lessons from books. I had no clue about materials, paper, brushes or paints.
I credit the Internet and all those wonderful artists who have put up tutorials online and on Youtube for helping me in my watercolor journey over last few years. With my kids being older, I had more time. I bought some watercolors, naively thinking it would be easier and faster to satisfy my creative urge.
Once I started I was hooked and I went crazy getting books from the library and watching tutorials online. I joined forums like ‘Wetcanvas’ which is a wonderful resource. I became obsessed with watercolors. Working on improving my technique, I was enamored by that light airy quality of watercolors.
I learned to use good quality materials. I usually work on 140lb cold pressed watercolor paper from brands like Canson, Arches and Saunders Waterford etc. My paints are mostly Winsor & Newton professional grade. The brushes I use a lot are from the Silver Black Velvet line. Immediately, I could see a world of difference in the results when using these tools.
Then, I grew more confident and started showing my work. I joined the Freehold Watercolor Society, a wonderful local community of artists. Also, I joined other plein air groups in the area and participated in various paintouts.
There, I got very positive feedback, won some awards, and was juried into various shows. I earned Signature membership recently in the Northeast Watercolor Society! I have been commissioned to do some house and pet portraits and have sold paintings. All the while, I did not really notice when I ‘became an artist’!
I paint regularly, making small 9×12” paintings in an hour or so. This practice has improved my work a lot. Mostly, I use photos from places I have been to as references. Sometimes, I use pictures of celebrities when I’m in the mood to paint a quick portrait.
Currently, I am keen on painting en plein aire because that’s where I wish to improve further. I am inspired by many contemporary watercolor masters like Joseph Zbukvic, Alvaro Castagnet, Andy Evansen, David Taylor and many more. I read their books and watch their demos over and over again.
Many times, I am asked, “why watercolors?” But there is no answer that can be expressed in words! The joy I get watching the paint and water flow and mix on paper is impossible to describe.
To any serious watercolor beginners, I would say that just keep going. It gets better with practice. There is a wealth of information online if you don’t have time to go out for classes. And even then, the real joy actually is in the pleasant surprises one gets with this very challenging yet wonderful medium!